This week, officials from the state's health and human services agency are testifying at the Statehouse about proposed budgets for their departments. Some of the potential budget cuts, they say, seem manageable, but others they're hoping might be reversed or reduced.
Take Rhode Island’s poison control center, for example.
Rhode Island shares a poison control center with Massachusetts. It’s a toll-free number plus a staff of experts who can provide medical advice for people who suspect poisoning.
A network of state poison control centers exists across the country. They rely on federal and state funding. But that federal funding was cut by 25 percent a few years ago. And the American Association of Poison Control Centers warns that proposed state budget cuts threaten to shut some of the centers down.
At today's House committee on finance budget hearing, Health department director (designee) Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott testified that she would work with lawmakers to try to maintain Rhode Island’s poison control program.
She also outlined her strategic goals for the coming year. Scott told lawmakers her department will work to address the "social determinants" of health (commonly taken to mean the influence of poverty, education, housing, and more on a person's health); they'll try to promote more equity in health outcomes (meaning leveling the playing field for people from different income levels and backgrounds); and they'll focus on boosting access to "quality health services" for all Rhode Islanders.